Sunday, January 20, 2008

God Isn't Afraid of Icy Roads

So, we made it over the mountains. Barely. And therein lies a hair raising tale with a happy ending.

We had slow going through Denver due to snow and a typically busy Friday rush hour. Slow going through the foothills due to all the ski traffic. Slow going at higher elevations due to all the ice on the roads.
My husband, in the big pickup, was slipping a little here and there ahead of me as we got into the mountains. No big deal to him these roads, as he was in the mighty Dodge. But I, in the little Toyota Rav 4, almost slid off the mountains twice.

I'm not kidding.

The Eisenhower tunnel is a very long tunnel that passes through a mountain high in the the Rockies. It marks one of a couple of high points we always landmark as possibly troublesome this time of year. The weather reports for this pass usually say "possibility of snow," "icy/snowpacked," or "chain laws in effect." The forecast for that night, though, was just for light snow, so we weren't too worried. We usually worry only when the law requires the semis to put chains on their tires.
But we were pretty sure we'd gotten off easy as we approached the tunnel from the east; the roads were only a little wet on that side. However... the roads, as we came out on the west side, were a skating rink. You could pretty much tell this as soon as you exited the tunnel because the single file rows of cars that had behaved so politely and orderly in the tunnel, suddenly turned into a squirming, sliding mishmosh on the other side. The downhill side.
It's funny how, after twenty-five years or so of driving in this nasty weather, you really do go into auto pilot. At least at first. As soon as I started to slide, my motor memory (no pun intended) really did kick immediately into snow-driving mode : Never slam on the brakes when driving on ice; gently pump, gently pump, slow down nice.
Yeah, well. Nice rule. But as the "gentle pumping" seemed to have no effect whatsoever on my forward momentum, I consciously Gave Up on the rules and pushed the pedal to the floor.

What else could I do? Another instinct had kicked in here. I was coming up fast on the back of my husband's truck. I MASHED those brakes!

Meanwhile... even as all this instinctual physical activity was going on, my conscious brain was facing a different dilema. My conscious thoughts were running more along the lines of: Is it a good or a bad thing that I'm about to hit the back of my own vehicle?

Almost as soon as that thought crossed my mind, my Toyota slowly rotated south, and continued, graceful as Michelle Kwan, turning me (In slow motion it seemed, though in the space of a half a second...) right into the opposite, oncoming lanes of traffic!

The rules of snowdriving automatically kicked in again: Be a smart kid; steer into the skid. My hands on the steering wheel obeyed, but the car did not. "Steering into the skid" didn't do a lick of good.

I was trying to be a smart kid, doggonit, but it wasn't working!

You have to know that at that particular place in the highway, there is no guardrail between the east and westbound lanes, so there was nothing to stop me from sliding into oncoming traffic. Yikes!

At this point, I figured it would have been better to hit the back of the truck. Oh, definitely!

So, I'm sliding across the "empty" space that divided the west and eastbound traffic, helpless to do anything, still pushing with all my might down on the brake pedal, thinking, "If I hit one of those cars, will we both continue sliding until we go over the edge?"

At about that point another automatic impulse kicked into gear.

"Jesus, Mercy!" I yelled. (Not like I needed to yell for Him to hear me, but I couldn't help it.)

And, immediately, the tires caught and I swung the wheel around and moved back safely into my lane. Whew!

Coincidence? Nope. Happened twice.

The second time, I was going, very slowly down another very steep hill. Around a curve. By this time the eastbound lanes had diverged onto their own bridges, so I didn't have to worry about sliding into oncoming traffic. I only had to worry about falling off the side of the mountain. But, no biggie. Not to God, Who has the whole world in His hand.

"Jesus, Mercy! Keep me safe!" I halloooed as I again slid sideways, unable to change direction or affect my momentum. And, as the words left my lips, again the wheels caught and I was able to steer safely back into my lane.

Yes, indeed. I know it was God. He scooped me up and set me right. Two times Friday night.

I know it was Him; I recognized the M.O.

He does this all the time.

He keeps me safe and sets me straight in spite of all my best intentions to do it myself.
But, He does like to be asked.
And thanked.
Thank-you, dear Lord.


Goodwyf Allie said...

Halleluia! Glad you are safe! Isn't He so Great?!

Eileen said...

Wow, what a great story!

I'm so glad you're safe! Thank goodness your impulses get you to yell something actually helpful--I daresay most people wouldn't be able to print what'd come out of their mouths at a time like this!! :)


Anonymous said...

Sounds frightening..glad you're safe!

ANawtyMouser said...

Oh my Lisa, please be safe! We were expecting that storm to hit us (in Iowa) also, but it seems to have just hit the northern part of the state! PAX, Carol

Danette said...

Wow! Scary stuff! My husband and I grew up in Denver. I learned how to drive in snow. You did everything right - scary that it didn't help. Good thing you knew who to call on! I hope I would have remembered to do the same. I've thrown some blessed salt in our vehicles. Hopefully that will help if something happens and I forget to pray. :)
Glad you're safe!

Bia said...

Whew. You had me on the edge of my seat just READING your post . . . I can't imagine how it would feel in real time!!

I loved how you had time to question whether it would be better or worse to hit your own vehicle. So what's the answer to that question . . . I need to know in case I'm ever in that situation.

Did your husband's heart skip a beat when he saw you sliding?

Anyway, I loved how you did all the "right things", but it was the "rightest" thing of all, asking for God's protection, that ultimately worked.

God bless.

GrandmaK said...

OH MY GOODNESS!!! By the time I finished reading your adventure I felt like I had been there (felt like this many times as Daddy would drive over Wolf Creek Pass to Durango to visit family there, I was usually car sick, too. What memories!!!)...My knuckles were "white" from hanging onto my mouse...God Bless you and Thanks be to God!!! Cathy

Soutenus said...

Dear Lord, Thank you!

Lisa said...

Allie ~ Yes, indeed! He is! And, thank-you!

Eileen ~ LOL! I guess that may be true, huh? I bet there were a lot of *#!+&*%#s flying around out there on the ice the other night! Shame on them! -gg- Actually, though, I have two ejaculations that I say so often, they always come to mind first: Jesus, Mercy & Lord Jesus Christ, Have Mercy! 'Cause I need lots of mercy!!

Jackie ~ Thank-you! Do you get much snow there on the British Isles? I know it gets cold, but you never hear about much snow...

Carol ~ Thank-you! &:o) I didn't realize, for some reason, that you were in Iowa! My boys are right near the river, in Omaha, a hop skip and jump to Iowa. But, this storm seems to have missed them, too, I think.

Danette ~ I never heard of using blessed salt for vehicles! How cool is that? You need to write a post on that so I can learn and link! &:o)

Bia ~ I still need to ask my husband about whether or not I should have AIMED for his truck... -gg- I tend to think, since it no longer has comprehensive coverage, it would not have been a good thing. But, I imagine it would have been better than hitting someone else? When I was sliding, he said he saw me start to slide, and, though he wouldn't word it that way (snicker), I think his heart did skip a beat. There was certainly nothing he could do! It's a terrible feeling of powerlessness!

Cathy ~ I'm just over the Mountain from Durango right now! I'm staying at my in-laws house in Montrose; I was in Ouray earlier today, just the other side of the Million Dollar Highway from Durango. Those roads would make anyone carsick! Yikes! I heard the road to Silverton only just got cleared after being closed down for a long time due to massive avalanches! You should have seen the wind blowing the snow on the top of the mountains today into a white fluff pompadore! &:o) said...

HOly cow sistah! You didn't tell me about this stuff!! (your sistah using your computer, using your email, on your blog, because well, I'm here and you're not and you should be!)